Language & Music Activities
- Use Kristen Lawrence's music for literary and language activities for K-12.
- Download Kristen's FREE Teacher Lesson Plans.
- Purchase music at CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes.
- Stream on Spotify and more.
“ Kristen Lawrence's musical interpretation of Poe's 'The Raven' is exquisite.” - Dr. Hal Poe, President of the Poe Museum
If Edgar Allan Poe had been a musician, what would “The Raven” sound like?
This famous poem is noted for its lingering rhythms, sonorous rhymes, and gothic themes. Who better, then, to bring it to musical life than classically trained organist and composer of Halloween Carols™, Kristen Lawrence?
Kristen’s setting of all 18 verses follows the feelings of the narrator as he falls progressively deeper into the maelstrom of despair over his lost love, Lenore. Each verse was composed as a musical vignette to illustrate the growing madness as Poe’s character is tormented by the presence of the raven. Kristen’s pure soprano sings the narrative, as if sung by the ghost of Lenore.
Poe declared in his essay, “The Poetic Principle”: "It is in Music, perhaps, that the soul most nearly attains the great end for which, when inspired by the Poetic Sentiment, it struggles — the creation of supernal Beauty."
Like Poe, Kristen has written her own “Philosophy of Composition,” so to speak, with her essay, “A Musical Setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’” which details how she crafted her composition, verse by verse – available as a PDF download. To help explain the genius of Poe’s poem, other PDF downloads are also available. These may be used in the classroom in conjunction with Kristen’s music to help meet educational standards and requirements.
Kristen hopes you find “Poetic development” and “supernal Beauty” in her musical offering to Poe.
Subjects: Music Composition, Vocal Music, Poetry
Grade Levels: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, Higher Education, Homeschool
Resource Types: Study Guides, Activities, Songs
Included in lesson plan:
- Activities: Discussion, Comparisons, Sing Along
- Definitions and examples of Literary Terms used In Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”
- Definitions and examples of music terms used in the musical setting of Kristen Lawrence’s “The Raven”
- Copy of the version of poem used in the musical setting (Poe changed his poem over the years)
- Background reading and resources on Poe and "The Raven"
Teachers' comments: "Fantastic! Thorough and creative! Thanks!!" ... "I wish I could give this a 5! This is the perfect lesson for a very reluctant reader who responds to music." ... "So great! I teach RSP English and this will be great for my 10th graders as they need a lot to get engaged!"
NOTE: Kristen Lawrence's music, “The Raven,” has been used in several cities’ presentations of THE BIG READ: The Short Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts to encourage reading, art, music, through performances of Poe’s works in the community. She also lectured AP music classes about the music and theory in her musical setting and composition. One student said, "she came to my A.P. music theory class and she was amazing. She played the song for us and explained the depth of her reasoning for the chords for the song. it was really amazing!"
Ghost of John
Childhood Halloween memories can haunt one’s soul with such deliciousness. And so it is for many people with the traditional American tune, “Ghost of John.”
Kristen arranged and recorded two versions of this widely loved song on her first CD, Arachnitect, "Ghost of John – Bare Bones Version” for majestic pipe organ and "Ghost of John –Dead Composers Version” which adds strings to the bellowing cathedral organ. Inspired by the traditional first verse, she showcases four new verses she wrote. At the request of teachers, Kristen made available both versions as instrumental tracks on her Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven' Album to accompany students as they sing their own lyrics they wrote.
Students will discuss Halloween traditions and symbols, then listen to the song, write their own verse(s) and illustrate their poem. The instrumental version of “Ghost of John” by organist/ composer Kristen Lawrence can then be used to accompany the students in a sing along as they share their creative projects. Music is available for purchase at CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes.
Subjects: Music, Poetry, Halloween
Grades: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, Homeschool
Types: Projects, Songs, Cultural Activities
Teacher Comments: "Thanks!" 4-star rating
Poetry Activity: Ghost of John
Cats in the Catacombs
How many "cat" words can you find in this Halloween Language Arts Activity? Identify ”cat” vocabulary words and find the language “sound effects” of alliteration, assonance, consonance and onomatopoeia in the lyrics.
Subjects: English Language Arts, Arts, Halloween
Grades: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th
Types: Worksheets, Activities, Songs
Teacher comments: "This was amazing. I did it whole class because it was challenging for most of my students. It really stretched their vocabulary. Thank you!"
Download PDF and Links:
Language Arts & Vocabulary Activity: Cats In The Catacombs
Halloween Activities: The Spider and The Fly – New Spins On An Old Tale
Spiders often give people the shivery creepy crawlies, and for good reason. "The Spider and The Fly" moral poem written almost 200 years ago about a spider and his prey has become a classic in literature.
Included are work sheets and resources that put their own "spin" on the story to enrich students' experiences with a Caldacott winning picture book, music, a famous math puzzle, science and origami art activities. Adapt for grade level to generate student responses to: "What is the moral of this poem? Has human/spider nature changed since the poem was written?"
One resource is the clever Arachnitect song* from classically-trained organist Kristen Lawrence’s Halloween Carols albums which are based on Halloween history, traditions, folk tunes and poems of the season.
Subjects: English Language Arts, Music, Halloween
Grades: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, Homeschool
Types: Lesson Plans (Individual), Worksheets, Activities
Teacher comments: "Love this activity as well as the book!!" ... "Some great ideas." ... "Thanks, a great resource!"
Reading & Language Arts Activity: Arachnitect
Kids sing Halloween Carols
See how a 5th grade class used Kristen's Halloween Carols music to sing about the history of Halloween. Enjoy the season!
"I love this!"
"They're amazing! :D I hope more schools are open to this."
"I still remember this song (Ghost of John) from elementary school. Ahh, those were the days."